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Published: Monday, 9/20/2004

Home entertainment a lifestyle thing

BY HOMER BRICKEY
BLADE SENIOR BUSINESS WRITER
Ric Clark and David Jamieson display at their store at 5421 Monroe St. one of the theater-style home entertainment centers that are popular with customers nowadays. Ric Clark and David Jamieson display at their store at 5421 Monroe St. one of the theater-style home entertainment centers that are popular with customers nowadays.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

There is nothing at Jamiesons' Audio/Video to remind customers what the firm was like 50 years ago when it was founded. Gone are the monaural hi-fi record players and the plastic platters that carried the sounds of big bands, swing, and the newest rage, rock 'n' roll.

Instead, the store has showrooms displaying large-screen TVs, surround-sound audio systems, and theater-style home-entertainment centers.

"Home entertainment is evolving. It's now a lifestyle thing," said David Jamieson, president of the firm, explaining how his company had to reinvent itself to cater to ever-changing consumer tastes.

"We don't just set up a TV," he said. "We run wires through walls and ceilings. Everyone enjoys speakers in their homes, but they don't want a bunch of big boxes. Some systems have touch pads so someone can enter a room and turn on [the system]. Anyone can use it without being an expert in technology. Our goal is to make it simple to operate."

According to Mr. Jamieson, the business' revenue more than tripled from $1.4 million in 1993 to $4.4 million last year, and the number of employees nearly doubled, from 11 to 21. And with its latest addition, the Monroe Street firm occupies about 9,500 square feet of space, nearly four times its size 15 years ago.

Mr. Jamieson and Ric Clark, vice president and co-owner, estimate they have designed and installed more than 6,000 home-entertainment systems, typically costing $8,000 to $10,000. but occasionally up to $125,000.

"They are very much a top-notch outfit," said Laurie Melchior Huskisson, president of Melchior Building Co., a Perrysburg home builder. "They're just professional, very conscientious."

Jamiesons' was opened in 1954 by Mr. Jamieson's father, Dan Jamieson and uncle, the late Dick Jamieson, in a small shop on Central Avenue near Detroit Avenue. Times were vastly different then, Mr. Jamieson pointed out: The average new car cost less than $2,000 and gasoline was 29 cents a gallon, but when color TV sets went on sale that year, they cost as much as $995, or more than $6,000 by today's standards.

The business moved to Dorr Street in 1959 and to Monroe Street near Whiteford Road in 1987.

Despite the total change in products over the last half century, the company's customers include many of the same families, said Mr. Clark. "We strive for repeat business," he said, adding that some buyers are children and grandchildren of original customers. "Having a customer come back a second, or even a third, time is the best compliment we can receive."

Small Business Profile is a weekly feature on local companies. To be considered, send information about your company to Small Business Profiles, Business News, The Blade, P.O. Box 921, Toledo, Ohio 43697-0921.

Contact Homer Brickey at:

homerbrickey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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